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Home : News : News
NEWS | Sept. 16, 2011

Surveys to gauge interest in civilian voluntary separation programs

By Pam Ferguson Air Education and Training Command

As defense dollars become more constrained, the Air Force has authorized the use of the voluntary separation programs as a way to limit civilian funding to Department of Defense's fiscal 2010 levels.

Most civilian personnel sections throughout Air Education and Training Command will survey eligible civilian employees beginning in September to determine how many eligible civilian employees are interested in applying for Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay or early retirement under the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority.

VSIP is a management tool, not an employee entitlement, that helps minimize the number of involuntary separations. Eligible employees must be serving on an appointment without time limitation. If approved for VSIP, employees commit to voluntarily separate from service by retirement or resignation on the designated date.

Additional eligibility requirements apply. The amount of VSIP is equivalent to the amount the employee would be entitled to as severance pay, up to a maximum of $25,000 before taxes and deductions.

VERA may be used alone or in conjunction with VSIP. Employees must be serving on an appointment without time limitation and meet age and service requirements: age 50 with 20 years of creditable service or any age with 25 years of creditable service.

Employees under the Civil Service Retirement System who retire under VERA will incur a 2 percent reduction in their annuity for each year under age 55. There is no age reduction for employees covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Employees interested in voluntary separation should prepare now by obtaining retirement estimates. Most employees can obtain retirement estimates from the web-based Employee Benefits Information System or the Benefits and Entitlements Service
Team automated phone system. Employees can obtain as many retirement estimates from either system as they like.

Employees requiring a counselor-prepared estimate will receive only one estimate every three years; however, there are exceptions.

For example, if BEST prepared an optional retirement estimate and the employee is now being offered a VERA, BEST will prepare the second estimate within the three-year period. Due to retirement-related workload, BEST will provide employees their retirement estimate within the expected response date if the employee indicates to the benefits counselor that he or she is in receipt of a VERA and/or VSIP survey and has a short window of opportunity to reply.

Firefighters, air traffic controllers, law enforcement officers and retired military members who are combining their military and civilian service should use EBIS instead of BEST to obtain their estimates. Details for accessing the phone system can be found on the Air Force Personnel Center website at, keyword search 5828. Instructions for using EBIS can be found using keyword search 4872. Detailed information on obtaining retirement estimates is located using keyword search 5092.

Some employees will need to ask BEST to prepare their estimate because estimates obtained through EBIS may not be accurate due to their service history. Employees who need to obtain counselor-prepared estimates include:
· those with part-time service;
· non-appropriated fund service;
· rehired CSRS employees who took a contribution refund that will not be repaid;
· rehired FERS employees who took a contribution refund;
· employees with post-56 military service who have not made a deposit;
· employees with temporary service for which a deposit will not be paid (including FERS employees with post Dec. 31, 1988 temporary service); and
· employees considering a deferred retirement.

For additional information, please email questions to the Randolph VERA/VSIP program office email box at Randolph VERA/VSIP Program Office at 902fss.civilian